Thursday, July 24, 2008

Forgiveness

I've just returned from a workshop with several other doctors, discussing how to modulate the stress in our own lives and teach others to do the same.

Our perfectionistic personalities make us ripe for overwork, guilt when things go wrong, shame when we make mistakes, and anger when we can't control outcomes. Through both lectures and exercises, Lee Lipsenthal MD of Finding Balance Productions helped us see ourselves . . . and the view was not always pretty.

Much of Dr. Lipsenthal's teaching involved ways of dealing with our own reactions, and how to keep what's important central in our lives and hearts. In fact, many of the exercises focused on heart-based breathing and meditations.

I thought about how my personal practice of ho'oponopono fits into these ideas. It's a moment-to-moment working relationship between all parts of me and Divinity within, leading to forgiveness and peace. And, it's definitely heart-based.

The process involves noticing whatever is arising in my life or emotions, etc, and saying simply (within myself): "I'm sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you. I love you." Maybe it is a little like a mantra, for some.

I am accepting (as much as I can) 100% responsibility for whatever shows up in my life or my office. Ho'oponopono holds that we are all one -- including through holding certain unconscious memories that distort what we see and experience. So even when we don't know what these are, we can apologize to Divinity within for them, inviting help and release from them. As these are released from us, they are released from everyone else as well.

The only purpose is to feel peace, not to create a particular outcome -- similar to mindfulness meditation or some of the exercises that Dr. Lipsenthal led us through the last few days. To be sure, though, things can shift in unexpected (often pleasant!) ways with consistent practice.

The idea of asking Divinity for forgiveness is very ancient. But in ho'oponopono it doesn't come from the perspective of something being 'wrong' with us. Instead it is about accepting that data collected over eons is running within us, like a movie that won't stop playing. We can be just fine as we are. But the movie shows up in our lives, through our experiences. My goal is to clean up whatever is happening within me that is presenting as seeming "problems", chaos, discord, lack, whatever.

This inwardly asking forgiveness and saying "thank you" for what is present, allows peace to reappear. Then we can move ahead as guided. When I remember to do this, there is more compassion within me for others. Sometimes my ego gets the best of me, though. I begin again, and again, and again.

I think of how alone, helpless, and overwhelmed I've sometimes felt when faced with people's suffering, and how these feelings are echoed in my colleagues. Few of us would freely acknowledge this; we do the best we can anyway. Wouldn't patients ultimately benefit from processes that calm their doctors? I believe so, and keep on practicing.

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